The Musk Ox Farm director Mark Austin is the first to admit that Maple, a three-day-old musk ox calf, is the cutest thing in the world. Her thin legs take wobbling steps. Her fine fuzz tickles her giant mother’s belly. And when she ambles through the pasture after nursing, her bright pink tongue wags from the side of her mouth. And Maple is just the beginning: 11 more calves are on the way this spring season, and the farm will soon burst into a flurry of feeding, combing, inserting microchips, tending to mothers, and, of course, greeting visitors.
Though he acknowledges the endearing quality of a baby musk ox in spring, Mr. Austin worries that visitors to The Musk Ox Farm might get so caught up with the new calf that they miss the farm's larger project. “I’m trying to battle the perception we’re a roadside attraction. It’s not just about getting out of your car and snapping a photo of a musk ox for your Alaska photo album.”
Not that Mr. Austin hasn’t snapped a few photos of Maple himself. He simply hopes the spectacle won’t overshadow the nonprofit farm’s scope, which begins and ends with the animals themselves. Although the majestic species is about 600,000 years old, domestication efforts began only 60 years ago by Farm founder John Teal. Every spring, the several-hundred-pound animals shed their qiviut, a thick under wool, some of which the farm ships to the native knitters’ cooperative in Oomingmak. There, members knit the wool into delicate lacy garments that they eventually sell to supplement their subsistence lifestyle. So when Mr. Austin looks at Maple, he sees not just a huggable calf, but the source of positive economic change for rural native Alaskan women. “The animals are fascinating,” he says. “But it’s the big picture that gets me up in the morning.”
Ever since The Alaska Club opened its first location in 1986, they've been striving to serve their members by adding amenities, classes, and opening new locations. Though each location?s offerings vary, they supplement their well-stocked fleets of cardio machines and strength equipment with cycling studios, climbing walls, basketball courts, swimming pools, and play centers for the kids. The club also offers spa services including hydromassage beds, tanning, and saunas.
Group fitness classes include yoga, step aerobics, and Pilates, and personal trainers stand at the ready to help clients focus on fitness goals. The clubs also offer swim lessons and summer camps for kids, setting in stone their commitment to making The Alaska Club a place for the whole family, not the half-formed family, which needs at least seven more years to gestate in the laboratory incubator.
What began as a colony farm built by the U.S. Army in 1935 became, by the mid-1950s, the childhood home of Reindeer Farm's head honcho, Tom Williams. After studying the habits of Scandinavian and Siberian reindeer herders in high school, Tom began to understand why the antlered creatures were considered the "cattle of the North": The brisk Alaskan climate suited their dense coats and languid presence at pool parties. In 1987, after years of practicing law throughout Alaska, Tom ventured to Canada to meet his first herd of reindeer, which he kept corralled next to a tiny sign and donation jar on the modest farm. Since then, that initial herd has blossomed into 150 reindeer, who graze beside 35 elk, 13 horses, one bull moose, and one surprisingly well-adjusted bison. Now a petting zoo, the farm has grown alongside the herd, with guided tours, scavenger hunts, and horseback rides treating guests to an up-close and hands-on experience with the majestic animals. Located in the colony's original chicken coop, a gift shop provides guests with any number of collectibles to commemorate their visits.
As the clients of the month might tell you, the dedicated Fit Pros at Body Renew Alaska know how to get results. The team—which includes a female bodybuilder, a National Guardsman, and a trainer who helped one client lose more than 200 pounds in a year—takes a five-step approach to making weight loss permanent. Each client's journey begins with a fitness assessment, in which a personal trainer takes measurements, helps create realistic goals, and introduces the gym equipment. Patrons use an online tool to make healthful food choices and train their metabolism, and they can improve cardiovascular endurance during a variety of boot camps and classes, such as Zumba, kickboxing, and circuit training. Throughout the process, a crew member dispenses one-on-one feedback and encouragement, answering questions about the fastest way to burn fat or how to convert a pair of worn-out sneakers into a chipmunk hotel.
Over sweeping evergreen pine forests and snow-capped mountains, the pilots from Above Alaska Aviation's FAR flight school hone their craft. FAA-certified instructors coach students in a range of specialized flight training in a fleet of 7EC Champ aircraft, as well as a PA-18 Super Cub and Cessna 180B. They train private pilot students in tailwheel aircraft from start to finish, tailwheel endorsements, and single-engine sea float ratings on the mountain lakes of Susitna Valley. Students learn the basics of flying tail-wheel aircraft?planes with landing gear on the tail?to hone skill sets, enhance their understanding of flight safety, and help them feel superior to carrier pigeons. When not teaching flight, bush pilots ferry passengers to remote wilderness areas where they can hike, fish, or hunt with rifles and bows.
Okamoto's Karate's dedicated karate and tae kwon do instructors transform pedestrians of all ages and experience levels into finely calibrated martial artists within fully mirrored training facilities replete with changing rooms. During a diverse lineup of classes, the highly trained staffers shepherd students aged 4 to typewriter-user through a dynamic training system that fuses Japanese karate with Korean tae kwon do, working to lay the foundation for active and confident lifestyles. In addition to hosting classes for average citizens and out-of-shape superheroes disguised as average citizens, the studio is also home to the world-championship team, Team Alaska, which has been featured on ESPN's worldwide telecast of the US Open & ISKA World Martial Arts Championships in 1999 and 2000.